Meditation is key in relieving stress.
Pregnant women may find that while their pregnancy is a beautiful and magical experience, it also leads to stress. Not only do expecting mothers feel stress in their joints and muscles, but it is also present in the mind.
New mothers have a lot to consider: Natural childbirth or injection? Cloth diapers or disposable diapers? Breast milk or formula? While it is impossible to make those questions go away, expecting yogis can choose from any number of meditation techniques to take their minds off of the worldly items and tasks that come with childbirth, and instead, focus on themselves and their baby.
Before attempting any of these meditations, you may want to reference the previous blog on Healthy Sitting Positions for expecting mothers.
Quieting the mind may be too much to ask. With that in mind, be kind to yourself and don’t ask yourself to ignore your thoughts. Instead, make a list! Make of list of all of the items, ideas and worries you have floating around in your mind.
Once the list is complete, leave it in a place that is visible, so that you can pick it up again after you’ve taken your few moments to be with yourself and your baby.
The great thing about writing your list down is that you don’t have to remember everything on the list all of the time. Now, it exists on the page. It will remain there until you get the satisfaction of crossing it off the list (which is my favorite part of list making)!
The list should help to turn the volume down, but let’s be honest: Quieting the mind is hard to do especially when you are expecting. But, making a list and turning the volume on the mind chatter down is a great start.
Next, choose your sitting position. Make sure you are comfortable. Use every pillow and blanket you own if it makes you the most comfortable you can be! Give yourself permission to be relaxed and comfortable.
Once you’ve found your comfort zone, you can begin. Everyone is different, so find the practice that works best for you. The only way to do that is to try them all at least once. I recommend trying them all twice for good measure.
Meditation Technique #1: Centering
After finding your comfortable seat, close your eyes. Make cups with your hands and place your palms over your eyes blocking all light. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let the jaw relax as you gently exhale through slightly parted lips. Keep breathing and take a moment to talk to yourself. That’s right. I said talk to you!
You can have a million cheerleaders out in the world congratulating you on your creation of life and wishing you luck on your birthing journey, but if you aren’t good to yourself, none of those cheers will matter. So, breathe deeply and fully, and congratulate yourself!
You are doing a great job! I mean, think about it: while you are walking around during the day, working or even watching television, you are creating a new life. That is pretty amazing. And, not only that, you are the only person in the world that can create the life you are creating right now. Also, awesome!
I’m going to put an affirmation for you to read below. This is a recommendation of what to say to yourself with your inner voice. You may even choose to say it aloud, but feel free to come up with your own or just talk to yourself in a stream of consciousness. This is your moment to bathe yourself in a positive light.
I am a mother. I have a healthy and able body. With each breath I take, I am supplying energy to my body for building and air to my baby for growth.
I am a mother. There have been many mothers before and there will be after me. Growth and birth are equally natural and are simultaneously, equally miraculous.
I am a mother. I am blessed, and I am providing the blessing of life to myself and my family.
Meditation Technique #2: Vocal Toning
Vocal toning is a great way to introduce your voice to your baby, but it is also a great way to release tension in your entire body. Vocal toning also offers an outside focusing point which in turn helps to ease the mind. It is hard to make a shopping list when you are focusing on making the right sound and observing the body as it is making that sound.
So, again, find your comfortable sitting position. Once this is achieved, take a deep breath in, and on the exhale, make a long A sound. You should feel this one mostly in your head and mouth. Try to make the long A sound last the length of your exhale. Next, try the long E sound. Then, try the long I, long O and long U sounds. Again, make the sound and the exhalation one thing. Your breath out should be supplying you with the air to create the long vowel sounds.
While you are going through the vowels (in order: A, E, I, O, U), pay attention to the body. Where do you feel the sound the most? Which sound makes you feel the most relaxed or most open inside? Repeat the vowel sounds in order for as many repetitions as you like. This is your time. Take it.
Once you’ve found that sound that makes you feel the most open and most relaxed, you can use it during your labor. When a contraction comes, you can use the vocal tone of your choice to ease the body and possibly even ease the baby. The baby is listening to you do these vocal tones. A familiar sound while they are being born may make them feel a little bit better about their relocation from womb to outside world.
Meditation Technique #3: Walking Meditation
If sitting is uncomfortable or if you are tired of sitting, Walking Meditation is an excellent alternative to traditional sitting meditations.
Find an open area either outside or inside. You want enough room to pace or walk in a circle. Place your hands on your belly and take a walk. Inhale with every step of the right foot and exhale with every step of the left foot.
The steps should be slow, deliberate. Each step is taken with a purpose. If you have been doing breathing exercises and can take longer inhalations and exhalations, you may inhale and exhale everyone two or three steps. This is a personal practice, so breathe in the way that is most comfortable for you.
I’m going to include another affirmation here. This is to help focus on your steps and your baby while you walking. Again, this practice is personal. Talk to yourself politely. Talk to your baby. Say whatever feels right.
With each step, I am moving forward into my future. With each breath, I am nourishing my baby and helping them to develop.
With each step, I am moving forward into my child’s future. With each breath, I am providing myself with strength to develop as a woman and as a mother.
Let this walk last as long as you’d like.
These practices should be comfortable and relaxing. If at any point during any of your meditations, you feel dizzy, shortness of breath or any discomfort, discontinue your practice for the moment. Take a break. Do less. If the discomfort continues after you’ve stopped and rested, contact your physician.
Good luck and Congratulations!
Always consult a physician before doing any type of yoga or exercise program—especially while you are expecting.
Barbara Burgess began her yoga practice 12 years ago. She has received three yoga certifications as well as a certification in Holistic Weight Management, and she writes a casual yoga blog about yoga (of course), meditation and eating. She has a Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga Instruction Certificate from Full Circle Yoga, a Yoga for Stress Management Certificate and a Holistic Weight Management Wellness Certificate from Aura Wellness Center. She also has a Sport Yoga Certificate from N.E.S.T.A. Breathe.Move.Live. Namaste!